From EFL to EAP: A shift in skills
Wednesday 8 February 2012
by Louis Rogers
Many people who teach English in summer schools or evening classes around the world will probably spend little time teaching writing skills. The focus tends to be on communication and writing tasks are kept to a minimum. When students are asked to write it will often be for homework or in an exam and little active work is ever done on writing. It could be argued that this balance is right, as most people use a foreign language in contexts that rarely require written discourse. However, this assumption is no longer a safe one to make. Today, more and more communication happens in a written form, via mediums such as social networking sites, texting, blogging, and tweeting. Perhaps one day the main general English course books will shift to reflect this fact. However, until that happens it is likely that writing will continue to be seen as a boring, heads down, individual activity that is given little explicit coverage in a general EFL classroom.
Different EFL contexts can bring writing higher on the spectrum of importance. For example, shifting to business English brings one area of writing to the fore – emails, and potentially some other areas, such a report writing. However, it is within EAP that writing really rises in importance and focus, and arguably becomes the main skill on which a student’s success depends on. This is perhaps reflected most obviously simply by the number of EAP books available to teach this skill, with EAP writing books clearly outweighing the other skills of reading, listening and speaking. This increased importance and shift in focus for an EFL teacher can be quite disconcerting. Having, probably spent little time explicitly teaching writing and suddenly having a 2-hour writing class every day is a considerable shift in a teaching role that at first glance many would assume to be quite similar. It is after all simply another English class, isn’t it?
For many there is a fear of what to teach and how to teach it. In this blog over the next few months I would like to share ideas on how to teach writing. What should we teach and how should we teach it? How can we engage learners in a writing class? Do writing classes have to be heads down? Should we focus on the product, process, or genre? What areas of language should we teach students? And how can we ensure feedback effectively impacts on student’s writing?
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Meet the Bloggers
- Bob Dignen & Steve Flinders (February to April 2013)
- Hania Kryszewska & Paul Davis (April to June 2012)
- Louis Rogers (January to March 2012)
- Ken Paterson (December 2011 to February 2012)
- Richard Brown & Lewis Richards (September to November 2011)
- Liz Walter & Kate Woodford (September to October 2011)
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- Chaz Pugliese (March 2010)
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- Lindsay Clandfield (July 2009)
- Duncan Foord (June 2009)
- Scott Thornbury (May 2009)
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The Developing Teacher
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Part of the Delta Teacher Development Series. Culture in our Classrooms acknowledges the role of culture in the English Language Teaching classroom and provides lesson content which is relevant, useful and engaging for students.
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The Company Words Keep
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Teaching Online is essential reading for any teacher interested in online teaching and course delivery. It deals comprehensively with both the tools and the techniques necessary for online language instruction.
The Business English Teacher
From the multi-award-winning DELTA TEACHER DEVELOPMENT SERIES. The Business English Teacher is a book not only for teachers who are thinking of making a career move into the field of business English teaching but also for those who would like to increase their skills and develop their potential.
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